Ryan Howard bats in a win over the Marlins. The Phillies were without Howard for most of the season, but have heated up since his return. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
The latest from around MLB ...
- At the Trade Deadline, there weren't a great many sellers, but two of the more obvious ones were the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies. The former unloaded ace Zack Greinke, and the latter unloaded various pieces, including outfielder Hunter Pence. That's the annual white flag that signals it's time to look ahead to the next season (Cubs fans know it well), but apparently no one told the current members of those teams. After each won last night, the two teams reached .500 (71-71), and climbed to within just 4 games in the Wild Card race. Even if the Cardinals, who currently hold the second Wild Card in the NL, play around .500 over the final few weeks, they can still be caught by a Phillies or Brewers team that plays out of their mind (17-4, for example). It's not likely, but crazy things happen. And if the Cardinals slump hard (as well as the Pirates and Dodgers)? You never know what might happen. Gotta love that second Wild Card.
- Brandon McCarthy has been released from the hospital and returned home yesterday as he recovers from a skull fracture and hemorrhage, and the resulting brain surgery, which he suffered in a game last week when he took a comebacker off the head. Obviously baseball is still a long ways off, but it's been a great recovery so far.
- Roger Clemens, in his Roger Clemens way, says he won't return to the big leagues this year for a start unless it's against a contender. His comments came in response to Astros owner Jim Crane's statement that he wouldn't bring Clemens on board to pitch for the Astros unless it was against a non-contender. "I can tell you right now and they would know, too, that if I was going to go do it, I am going to pitch against a contender, that's who I want to knock out," Clemens told Houston television station KRIV. "Why would I want to waste my time running around and getting in shape. I get over to Minute Maid [Park], I'll crank it up and get it over 90 for a contender. We'll knock them right out of the playoffs. That would be the fun. Pitching against somebody that's not in contention wouldn't be any fun for me. It's not going to happen."
- The Pirates are falling apart. They're on the verge of being swept by the Reds after being swept by the Cubs. The Pirates are now only three games over .500 after they've won just twice in their last 11 games. Frankly, they're lucky to still be 2.5 games out of the Wild Card race.
- Oakland A's part-time Brandon Moss is on the verge of something unusual: he could become the seventh player in MLB history to hit 20 homers in a season with 250 or fewer at bats. He's at 18 and 201 right now. Check out that list of the other players: Mark McGwire had 32 homers in just 236 at bats in 2000.
- Aroldis Chapman has some shoulder fatigue, as evinced by his season-low fastball on Monday (94.4 mph average) so he won't be pitching for a little while. Fortunately for the Reds, they've got a very healthy lead in the NL Central, so they can afford to sit him for a week or so.
- Although we're used to getting plenty of rumors in August about which players have been placed on, claimed on, or cleared waivers, it's all supposed to be a very secret process. Well, MLB isn't happy about how un-secret things were in Boston, in particular, this year, and is investigating the leaks.